What’s the similarity between speeding while driving, binging another TV episode and hitting the snooze button again? In our words, what do these things have in common with the national response to the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States?
The answer? Easy cost-benefit analysis … at least in theory. How well did we use this basic economic tool to lock down the country? Have we considered both the costs and benefits of shutdown for the betterment of our economy and people? Or just potential benefits? Let’s check some information.
Most of us agree with the wisdom of a temporary lockdown to “flatten the curve.” As the weeks went by, phrases like “new normal” became the norm in news stations across the country, and it quickly became clear that “temporary” regulations, and trademarked policies, would remain. As “temporary” months and years have turned, lockdown costs have become obvious and unavoidable.
Political and one-sided policy discussions focus only on the immediate benefits that bring with them bitter consequences. Frederick Bastiat will undoubtedly reprimand modern policymakers for considering only visible lockdown benefits: the cost of closing the country is less lost for Covid when ignoring, reducing or dismissing concerns. Higher arguments with those who have dared to raise such concerns have mitigated a meaningful debate. Epidemiologists and public health scientists are behind the concern of infectious diseases Great Barrington DeclarationIncluding others AIER Researchers have called for the lockdown to be considered costly, with those who are working hard to convince the public that they are doing the right thing were dismissed as ignorant and out-of-tune confusion. Yet recent Johns Hopkins meta-analyzes have concluded that “lockdowns have not had a small impact on public health, they have imposed huge economic and social costs where they have been adopted.”
Government officials sold lockdowns and restrictions as a way to save lives and reduce stress on hospitals and other healthcare facilities. But in trying to do that, how many lives has Lockdown destroyed? Bastiat writes: “The sweeter the first fruit of the habit, the more bitter the consequences.” The secondary effects of lockdown are actually bitter that were not initially examined: widespread unemployment, increased suicide, undiagnosed cancer, and untreated accidental injuries.
The data show that the national epidemic response itself – not just the COVID-19 virus – has led to thousands of deaths. Our World in Data explains that there have been significantly more total additional deaths in the United States than the number of confirmed COVID deaths in 2020. Similar results are found in Virat Agarwal’s NBER working paper Etc.., And by Leslie Scism WSJ Life insurance coverage. Problems such as increased suicide rates, drug use, obesity, and strains (present and future) in the healthcare system have contributed to the additional deaths.
The lockdown affected people’s lives and families, and anger and bitterness began to divide the country. National tensions escalated when it became clear that the burden of the lockdown had fallen unequally on the American people. Many white-collar lockdown advocates can work from home. In contrast, others, such as small business owners, and workers in the hospitality and service professions, carry inconsistent burdens through job losses, delayed healthcare, eviction notices, and more. National leaders have spoken of selflessness and social responsibility, seemingly forgetting that not all Americans can afford to hold their lives. Although Covid relief facilities offset some of these costs at the time, it is clear that depositing millions of American bank accounts will not solve all of the country’s problems. Statistics show that the lockdown had both financial and psychological costs, low wages and hit minority workers the hardest. While middle- and upper-income workers spoke of the importance of adhering to strict COVID guidelines, low-income workers struggled with the effects of the deepest recession in American history, first in the form of declining incomes and now, when they return. Work, rising inflation.
Growing mental health problems are visible due to drug overdose and alcohol-related deaths. In one year of the epidemic, hospitals across the country have reported a significant increase in the number of patients with alcoholic hepatitis and liver failure – especially those with recurrent disease. The CDC reported 26 percent more drug overdoses in the third quarter of 2020 than a year earlier, and a Clothes The report indicates that alcohol-related deaths increased 25 percent from 2019 to 2020, compared to 5 percent between 2018 and 2019. Increased rates of isolation and self-reported anxiety and depression have led to increased substance abuse and relapse, both of which have probably contributed to the rise in suicides.
Mental health researchers report that for each suicide, an estimated twenty more suicide attempts occurred, suggesting a greater impact of the COVID-19 response on the lives and mental health of thousands of Americans than reported here. Psychological researchers also say that unemployment increases the risk of suicide. With more than 40 percent of the workforce losing jobs, hours and incomes since the shutdown, such tragedies are rarely a mystery. Probably a factor as to why they’re doing so poorly is because of the disengagement associated with unemployment and the irresistible feeling of isolation that can contribute to declining youth employment and college enrollment rates.
Failure to take potential deaths and catastrophic lockdowns seriously is worrisome. How can the American people be expected to trust the advice of those who refuse to publicly acknowledge the other side of the coin? Such reluctance signals the intensity of a large national divide that can be difficult to reconcile. Arguing that lockdown benefits outweigh costs is one thing, ignoring costs completely is another. At best, Bastiat would identify this behavior as a weak policy, ignoring the less easily seen misery and occupying a handful of immediately visible short-term benefits. Two years after the nationwide shutdown began, we can identify some unseen costs. However, it may take us decades to fully understand the costs and benefits of an economic lockdown.
While we are confident that the United States will fully recover from the epidemic response and reduce sanctions, we can only learn from this costly experience if we move forward with a deeper understanding of the importance of recognizing both the visible and the invisible. Then maybe we could gain something. The future will undoubtedly lead to more difficult decisions that will require effective cost-benefit analysis to identify the best course of action. When faced with the “do something” call no matter what the cost, we must remember that there is no magic wand, or solution, just trade-off.